I love trailers. Not the ones that you pull along with your car (although they are pretty cool), no – film trailers. I always get excited when I see an amazing film trailer and the sheer amount of times that the finished film has failed to live up to its promo doesn’t seem to have taught me anything. I still remember the excitement and stupid noises that came out of my mouth (and arse) when I first saw the trailers for “Transformers” and “Iron Man 2” – two movies which actually ended up living up to their trailers (at least for me).
ERM, ROAD TRAIN DIDN’T.
Cool trailer – ooooooooooooooh, mysterious truck abducting and killing people in the Australian outback, sounds amazing.
Rubbish movie – oooooooooooooooooh, mysterious truck abducting and killing people in the Australian outback, but shit. Ok, not entirely shit, but not entirely good either.
“Road Train” starts off really well, with a great look, competent cast, excellent cinematography and a fail-safe bad guy – a giant truck. It worked in “Road Kill”, “Jeepers Creepers”, “Monster Man”, “Duel”, “Trucks”, “Maximum Overdrive”, “Hush”, “Watch Out I’m A Killer Truck And I’m Gonna Eat You” and so on, so why wouldn’t it work here? Well, it does, to begin with. The first half of the film is effective in every way, building enough tension, intrigue, threat and mystery to have you champing at the bit to find out about what the funk this truck is up to. Then they go and ruin it all in the second part.
Before I continue, I’ll outline the story. A group of youngsters are out on a bit of a road trip, when they encounter the aforementioned truck, it bangs into them a bit, then stops by the side of the road. They go over to investigate (amazing idea) and discover it deserted – then strange things happen, people get killed, and idiots jump around like annoying sacks. Of course, it’s hard to fully analyse the film without ruining the ‘surprise’ but let’s just say it’s a ‘grinding’ disappointment. Wow, that was clever. Quite pleased with myself on that one.
Anyway, once they (sort of) discover what’s going on, the film goes downhill faster than a road train with no brakes. It eventually descends into ludicrous histrionics by almost all the cast members, but particularly the blokes (even the usually great Xavier Samuel), who fling themselves about the screen like demented pogo-sticks. The explanation behind what’s going on is never explained, and although this can work to create poignancy (“The Strangers”), here, it’s all so convoluted that it’s aching for a reason behind the madness. It’s lazy to think that you can get away with such a bonkers plot without giving even a hint of what’s actually going on.
It’s such a shame, as the potential displayed in the first half showed promise, a promise that was unfortunately broken come the insane plot shift half way through. It’s all fantastically annoying, and by the time the arse-muscle-crampingly frustrating finale arrives, you’ll wish they’d all just got on the road train and drove it off a fucking cliff.
“Road Train” is out now on DVD from Optimum Home Entertainment.
Dean Francis (director) / Clive Hopkins (screenplay)
CAST: Bob Morley … Craig
Sophie Lowe … Nina
Georgina Haig … Liz
Xavier Samuel … Marcus
David Argue … The Psycho